South Africa played to a goalless draw with Nigeria in their final Group B game at the Under-23 Caf Africa Cup of Nations at the Al Salam Stadium in Egypt on Friday night, but still qualified for the semifinals of the competition.
They will now play Egypt on Tuesday, and if South Africa win that game, they will not only reach the final, but will also qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. If they lose to Egypt, then David Notoane’s side will get another chance to qualify for the Olympics in the third-place play-off.
South Africa finished the group phase second in their group with five points after three games, one point behind group leaders Ivory Coast, who finished on top of the log with six points.
It was a an entertaining first half from both sides, with lots of chances created. But South Africa looked more threatening, particularly with their speed when on attack, giving the Nigerian back four problems.
Midfielder Athenkosi Dlala tried to test Nigeria’s shot-stopper as early as the second minute of the match, but his shot went wide.
Nigeria got a chance with Ndifreke Effiong shot, but South Africa’s goalkeeper Darren Johnson was able to make a save.
The Nigerians got another glorious chance falling in the way of Sunusi Ibrahim, but the forward missed the target from close range in the 25th minute.
The South Africans pilled pressure as Nigeria began to be physical as Notoane’s charges were being awarded free-kick after free-kick.
As the game game headed for the break, Teboho Mokoena thought he had put South Africa in the lead, but was unfortunately denied by the crossbar.
South Africa suffered a major blow early in the second half after Lyle Foster was forced to leave the game early due to an injury and was replaced by Keletso Makgalwa.
However, South Africa didn’t to stop asking questions and this time around it was Luther Singh who came close to scoring in the hour mark, but his attempt hit the side netting.
From then, on it was chance after from both sides, but it was South Africa who wasted most of their goal-scoring opportunities leaving the game to end at 0-0.